Thursday, August 27, 2009

8 Elul. The Pursuit of Happiness

Living a life that feels centered and whole is also living a life that feels joyful.

A congregant has been attending a local ‘Happiness Club’ .  They recently shared how some of the simple wisdom on how to live a joyful life has helped them and, with their permission, I share their reflections here:

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly". I reflect on this quote at my desk time and time again when I think that things may never change or improve for the better. Yet in addition, I also try to remember that it "never gets darker then midnight". A few years back I read an interesting article about the "Pursuit of Happiness” in the Fairfield Citizen newspaper. At the end of the article it mentioned that the writer, Lionel Ketchian, also ran monthly Happiness Club meetings in the area. I was intrigued and decided to try out a meeting for myself and became hooked. 
I became a regular at the meetings for quite some time. Currently, if I can't attend a meeting I read the monthly "Happiness Club" website columns  and become inspired. This helps to keep me afloat, remain positive, and focus on what is truly important. It reminds me to be happy and realize the beauty and value of each day. It was also through one of the Happiness Club meetings that I became acquainted with the happiness teachings of Rabbi Zelig Pliskin of Jerusalem. Each day I receive an email from him citing his "daily lift". I begin my day by reading his message which inspires me throughout the rest of the day. Each passage is so powerful and poignant with a lesson to remember and words to live by.
Most important, between the mantra of The Happiness Club and Rabbi Pliskin, I now focus on gratitude more and more in my own daily prayers. I believe it is the key to happiness and focus on the blessings of what I have and not what I am missing. I also recite or make a daily mental list of all the "non material" things that I have and I am grateful for. The ones that money can't buy. These are the most valuable things for which I thank God.
The first words of the traditional Jewish prayer for waking up in the morning are Modeh ani lefanecha… Thankful am I before You.  A daily practice of affirming the good in one’s life can help to set the tone for the rest of your day.  If you have a daily mental gratitude list that you wish to share, please add to the comments for this posting.
For more information about Happiness clubs, click here.
You can read the Happiness Club blog here
To watch an interview with Rabbi Pliskin, click here
"Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." - Omar Khayyam
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus

"Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not material wealth...Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it." - John Templeton 

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